Parol, the Christmas Lantern

Just as the Christmas tree is associated with celebrating Christmas in many parts of the world, Christmas in the Philippines is marked by the “parol,” derived from the Spanish word “farol,” meaning lantern. Seeing them in front of houses is a sure sign that Christmas is around the corner.

Last year there were few parols hanging; now I am happy to see more of them in my neighborhood.

Traditionally made of bamboo and Japanese paper (papel de Japon), we learned as schoolchildren to make them in craft class. The modern version is made of capiz shells or plastic, and lit with LED bulbs.

The standard shape is the five-pointed star. No parol is too humble, though they can come in various colors and ornamentation.

There are electronic parols with programmable LEDs that dazzle. They are placed on street corners to brighten up the atmosphere.

The parol represents the Star of Bethlehem. To many, it symbolizes hope during the darkest nights.

Hanging a parol also signifies one’s openness to receive and spread the spirit of Christmas, despite the circumstances.

Here’s my parol.

Sending you the light of Christmas, and cheers to you and your loves ones!

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